A Guide to Modern Playwrights, Plays, and Productions
 
 
 
 
The Ride Down Mt. Morgan

Arthur Miller, as one would expect, makes both a moral and a philosophical point in ďThe Ride Down Mt. Morgan,Ē but his play is a comedy; its subject, as traditionally with comedy, is sex.  This is ďDeath of a SalesmanĒ turned inside out. The central character, aptly titled Lyman Felt, is a former insurance salesman who has built an empire and acquired sports cars, planes, homes Ė and two wives, one in a swanky apartment in Manhattan and the other in upstate New York, site of one of his branch offices.  Charming, daring, and confident, Lyman feels he is entitled to it all.  Patrick Stewart is superb in the role, wearing a Clinton-like gray wig and believing and persuasively arguing, like the man he resembles, that he has done nothing wrong.

The wivesí view is different.  Although he points out when discovered, they too have enjoyed and profited from their marriages to Lyman, irreparable harm has been done, not only to them but to the child each has borne to Lyman, who swears he loves both women.  Under Lymanís bonhomie, there is also a need for human contact, so desperate one snowy night in upstate New York that he risks driving down icy Mt. Morgan, resulting in the accident that precipitates the action.

Michael Blakemore has skillfully directed what the printed text reveals as a most difficult work to stage.  The scenes move back and forth in time, and the character of Lyman is a complex one: the audience must empathize with his position as well as those of the wives.  On paper, Lyman (only one letter change from Loman, Millerís great tragic hero) is less sympathetic than in the flesh, especially as interpreted by Stewart, who has created leading Shakespearean roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In revising the play since it appeared in London and off Broadway in 1991, Miller has simplified it, deleting Lymanís dead father, who wanders in and out of Lymanís hospital room and who represents Lymanís fear of death, a fear confined to dialog and action in the revision.  But Miller has retained the silly scene of Lymanís fantasy of the two women on pedestals contending for Lymanís sexual favors by flaunting their culinary skills.

The end is as meaningful as it is expected.  Both women leave Lyman.  And he is left to question even his material gains as he is filled with envious wonderment at his nurseís delight in her familyís ice-fishing, wearing the new shoes they have purchased at bargain prices.